from Beth Lorio
for A Teaspoon of Water: Contemplative Arts Salon
For the last installment of my series on the Salon, I wanted to bring the tradition up to a hostess of our Century, maybe even of our country. A name jumped out at me on the Wikipedia “Salon” page: Ruth Logan Roberts. Followed by the phrase “Harlem Renaissance”.
What better Hostess to highlight than an African American woman, an Activist, a Suffragette, a board member of the YWCA, amidst the amazing ferment of 1920’s Harlem. Who had attended her Salon? Was she primarily a hostess to writers? Painters? Composers? Was she known for her wit? Her force? What did she look like? Who were her woman friends? What did she have to say to the world about anything?
This is what Wikipedia had to say, on her page, about her Salon:
“Roberts hosted a regular salon at her home at 130 West 130th Street in Harlem, New York City that brought together major figures active in Harlem at the time in politics, community service, and the arts.”
And that is all I could find on the subject. I looked, I looked for books in the Library system, I looked on line, that’s all I found. An image search came up with many faces. None of which were actually the Ruth Logan Roberts I was looking for.
The only image I know relates to her is this one; a letter she wrote to W. E. B. DuBois, in the Amherst University Archives. The caption reads:
“Graciously accepting his invitation to meet with Franklin F. Hopper and Ernestine Rose of the New York Public Library to discuss the issue of institutionalized racial discrimination.”
Why can’t I find more material on Ruth Logan Roberts?
Sometimes the Salon slips past us, only to be found in the living lives of those who were there. Sometimes the Hostess does her work, makes the connections, puts the right word in the right place, and there is no one there to record it. The only record is the light of our learning, expansion, fellowship, revolutions, art, our path bending towards justice.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.